India outrage over IOA suspension from Olympics

Indian boxer Vijender at London OLympics India won six medals at London 2012

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There is outrage in India after its top sports body was suspended by the International Olympic Committee ahead of elections in which officials accused of corruption were to be appointed.

The Indian press called it an "Olympian shame" after the IOC declared void the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) election, due to be held on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, IOC said the election "had been tarnished since the start".

The ban prevents athletes competing for India at future Olympics.

India had won six medals at London 2012

Two officials expected to be elected to senior IOA positions are closely linked to corruption allegations relating to Delhi's hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

After the IOC announced the ban late on Tuesday, Indian press and athletes criticised the IOA.

India's London 2012 medallists

Silver

Shooting: Vijay Kumar (men's 25m rapid fire pistol)

Wrestling: Sushil Kumar (men's 66kg freestyle)

Bronze

Badminton: Saina Nehwal (women's singles)

Boxing: MC Mary Kom (women's flyweight 51kg)

Shooting: Gagan Narang (men's 10m air rifle)

Wrestling: Yogeshwar Dutt (men's 60kg freestyle)

"Had it not been such a resounding slap for Indian sport, it would have been tempting to step back and hail IOC's decision to ban IOA: after all, which country would like to have a politician with a court case against him and an official who had been in jail for a year at the helm of its apex sports body?", wrote The Times Of India newspaper.

"Ironically, we have called this upon ourselves: for too many years, we have allowed our sports officials to enjoy the game called let's-make-merry-as-sport-goes-to-the-dogs," he added.

In an article titled Olympian shame, Mail Today writes: "Indian athletes, still savouring their best-ever Olympic showing at London this year, will suffer the humiliation of not being able to compete under the national flag at the next Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Rio Olympics in 2016.

"They will be forced to participate under the Olympic flag if India continues not to conform to IOC guidelines."

In a guest column in the same paper, former Commonwealth Games gold medalist shooter Moraad Ali Khan described the ban as "the most embarrassing moment in India's sporting history".

Beijing Olympics gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra criticised the country's sports administrators for pushing the athletes' interest to the background.

"I was shocked to be told that India could be disaffiliated by the IOC. It was shameful to be in such a situation.

"The athletes and not the officials will suffer if the country is suspended by the IOC. It seems that the interest of the athletes have been pushed to the last agenda in the scheme of things. It is very unfortunate."

In an opinion piece called Time to clean up our game, The Hindu says: "The IOA's inability to sort things out with the government has led to this unprecedented suspension in its 88-year-old history.

"The Commonwealth Games scam that led to officials, including IOA president Suresh Kalmadi and current secretary-general-designate Lalit Bhanot being charge-sheeted, has only strengthened the public perception that sports bodies need to be brought under government regulation, specially when government funds are being utilised for the development of sports."

In a column in The Hindustan Times, Rahul Mehra called it a "golden day" for Indian sports.

"The government of India missed a golden opportunity to clean up the mess after the outbreak of the Commonwealth Games scam, but it chose to sit on the fence. Had it acted then, we would not have been slapped internationally like this."

Mr Mehra says that the ban should instead be seen as a "god-sent opportunity" to clean up the mess in the Indian sports.

He suggests that a committee, comprising Olympic medallists like Abhinav Bindra and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, "men of impeccable reputation", should be set up to administer the IOA.

"The situation is retrievable," he wrote.

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